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Panel session 2

Land and food security in a changing climate: How do land and soil fit into the post-Copenhagen process?

This session focuses on how food security and sustainable land management (SLM) could be addressed in the negotiations that will lead through 2010 to COP16. Food security is a vital item on the development agenda of developing countries (mostly non-Annex I countries, in terms of the Kyoto Protocol). However, the industrialized Annex I countries must also recognize more clearly that the threat of desertification and land degradation to food security directly concerns them, as well. The G8 Summit in 2009 in L’Aquila, Italy, acknowledged the substantial global impact of desertification and land degradation in the drylands, calling for synergetic implementation among the Rio Conventions and declaring their resolve to work with developing country partners. The assembled G8 heads of state pledged to integrate effective SLM into relevant cooperation programmes and assist in integrating SLM into national development plans, policies and national climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Moderator

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Bo Kjellen, Ambassador, former chief negotiator in the Ministry of Environment of Sweden and former Chairman of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee for the elaboration of a convention to combat desertification in those countries experiencing serious drought and/or desertification (INCD)

Ambassor Bo Kjellén, introducing the panel, said the global community has entered the “anthropocene age,” a period in which human beings are having an impact on the natural systems, and drew attention to the 2009 September issue of the journal Nature that discussed climate boundaries. He recalled that when he chaired negotiations of the UNCCD, he had said the Convention was one about fundamentals – of land, water, sand, sun and people.

Panellists

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Veerle Vandeweerd, Director of the Environment and Energy Group, UNDP

Ms Veerle Vandeweerd focused on three aspects: UNDP’s contributions to the negotiations with respect to land; the importance of agroforestry in mitigating climate change; and the complexity of the issues under consideration by the UNFCCC. She drew attention to a publication developed jointly with the UNCCD and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), showing the linkage between drylands and climate change. She made the case for incentives to promote soil carbon sequestration in the drylands and suggested giving attention to this issue and to sustainable drylands management in the section on agriculture in the Chair’s negotiating text, noting that it focuses on farmers. Using the example of improved drylands management in Niger, she emphasized the value of agroforestry and dry forests in sustainable drylands management. And on complexity, she noted that 50% of the emissions from manufacturing is generated in the production of goods for consumption in a small set of countries, and called for a holistic examination of the interdependence of issues.

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Maggie Phang, Executive Officer, Environment Branch, Climate Change and Environment Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia

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Ms Maggie Phang, Australia, on behalf of Inga Davis, Director, Sector Negotiations and Liaison Section I International Division in the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, gave an overview of: the government’s priorities on land; domestic action being taken to address climate change; the unique features of Australia; the importance of the land sector in regional employment; the main sources of carbon emissions by sector; and the impact of climate change. She said land can make an important contribution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  She stressed that the climate change rules must not punish parties for emissions from natural hazards such as bushfires and drought that are outside the control of governments and said in Australia, action at the domestic level includes voluntary markets through the national carbon offset standard. She also drew attention to the climate change research programme that is supporting Australia’s Farming Future. In conclusion, Ms. Phang said sustainable management of land is one of its priority issues in the negotiations, urged ensuring the land sector plays an important role in climate change mitigation, and noted the policy challenge of aiming to design polices which, at once, reduce emissions, support adaptation, increase productivity and meet the increased demand for food.

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Robert Carlson, IFAP Executive Committee member, National Farmers Union, USA

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Mr Robert Carlson made a presentation on the role farmers can play around the world in dealing with desertification and climate change. Noting that the growing demand for food will have to be met under new constraints that include using the same land and less water, and reducing green house gas emissions and conserving biological diversity, he said there is a need to link agriculture to food security, livelihoods and climate change mitigation and adaptation. He said climate change could make farmers victims, but adopting a “farming smart” approach would increase the capacity of farmers to participate in mitigation and adaptation efforts. He reported 27 such cases of success. Mr Carlson called for more investment in agriculture, the establishment of incentive systems to promote sustainable farming and address hunger and poverty, the development of risk management tools, and for support in science and technology. In conclusion, he urged integrating farmers and their organizations in the UNCCD and UNFCCC processes, the development of partnership agreements through consultative processes and assuring resources to farmers.

Discussion segment

During the discussion segment, participants observed that there is:

    *     increased interest in environmental issues among governments, despite their limited implementation capacity
    *     a need to identify a few priority areas for action, which can lead to inroads and convergence in addressing many of the other environmental challenges
    *     upwards of 70% of rural populations in the developing countries that are subsistence farmers are vulnerable to desertification due to a lack of expertise and capital
    *     land use and farming and the use of indigenous trees and indigenous knowledge in agroforestry need to be taken seriously
    *     over 7,000 farmers that have already entered the carbon-offsets market receive minimal returns. Their motivation to join the carbon market has come from a desire to enter the carbon-free economy early, not from the compensation they receive.

Participants also sought clarification on how the new provisions on agriculture, contained in Annex IX of the Chair’s negotiating text and titled, “Chapter IX, Cooperative sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions in agriculture,” were developed. They also inquired about: the proportion of countries supporting the sustainable management of land approach; and the conceptual difference between the sustainable land management promoted by the land community and sustainable management of land advanced in the climate change negotiations in the context of reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+).

In conclusion, the panelists underscored that: Cancun is not the end of matter, thus mitigation and adaptation initiatives will increase as the impacts of climate change begin to manifest; agriculture will be one of the most affected sectors by climate change, and food security is an essential part of this discussion; and there are co-benefits to addressing climate change and land degradation through sustainable land management.



 

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